DescriptionHarrisonburg was named after founder Thomas Harrison, who settled at the crossroads of a Native American path and the Spotswood Trail about 1739. Supplying lands for municipal expansion, Harrison's two sons followed a tradition set by their father when he donated land to Rockingham County for the erection of a courthouse in 1779.
Gen. Turner Ashby, one of the most respected Confederate officers of the Valley Campaign, fell in battle at Harrisonburg on June 6, 1862, while protecting Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson's approach to Port Republic. The Turner Ashby Monument, 1164 Turner Ashby Ln., memorializes the site of his death. Of Ashby, Jackson wrote, “As a partisan officer, I never knew his superior. His daring proverbial, his powers of endurance almost incredible…”
Harrisonburg lies in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley noted for its deep agrarian roots, vistas, many caverns and prime fishing waters. The cave nearest town is Endless Caverns in New Market, 11 miles north on US 11. The Shenandoah River, Lake Shenandoah and Silver Lake are known for their trout and bass fishing. Developed recreational areas of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests are nearby.
A community service project first organized by a group of Girl Scouts, the A Dream Come True Playground welcomes children with and without disabilities. The site's features include colorful slides, climbing walls and the wheelchair-accessible Liberty Swing. The playground, at 1050 Neff Ave. with an entrance on Thomas Bowers Circle, is open daily 8-dusk (weather permitting).
The arts flourish in Harrisonburg. Court Square Theater, on Court Square, opens its doors for various plays, films and concerts; phone (540) 433-9189. An arts complex at James Madison University, The Forbes Center for the Performing Arts, 147 Warsaw Ave., showcases students' musical and dramatic talents; its five venues also host national and international performances. Phone (540) 568-7000.
ShoppingValley Mall (1925 E. Market St.) has more than 50 stores, including anchors Belk and JCPenney.
Downtown Harrisonburg features a variety of local, independent stores that sell art, clothing, recreational equipment, vintage-inspired furniture and more. OASIS Fine Art & Craft (103 S. Main St.) sells handcrafted pieces, such as pottery, wearable art and paintings, fashioned by Shenandoah Valley artisans. Started in 1979, Harrisonburg Farmers Market (228 S. Liberty St.) offers a wide selection of high-quality agricultural goods and crafts. The popular downtown market is held Tues. and Sat. 8-1, Apr. 1-Thanksgiving; Sat. 9-1, rest of year.
Self-guiding toursBrochures, maps, and self-guiding driving tours and walking tours are available from the Hardesty-Higgins House Visitor Center.
Things to SeeThe Edith J. Carrier Arboretum